September 2, 2008

"Streams of Living Water"

«ἐάν τις διψᾷ, ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω. ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ, καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν ὕδατος ζῶντος.» - John 7:37b-38

"If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him." - John 7:37b-38, HCSB

"But where hath the Scripture said that 'rivers of living water shall flow from his belly'? Nowhere. What then meaneth, 'He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture saith'? Here we must place a stop, so that the, 'rivers shall flow from his belly,' may be an assertion of Christ." - St. John Chrysostom (tr. Philip Schaff), Homily on John 7:37-44

I just read this in Chrysostom, and I don't think I've ever seen this resolution anywhere. The problem is that "will have streams of living water flow from deep within him" is not a quotation from any known source. Most Bible translations give something like the HCSB above, and some of them have footnotes giving some passages to which Christ may be alluding. For instance, HCSB lists Isaiah 58:11, Ezekiel 47:1-12, and Zechariah 14:8. Now, Chrysostom's suggestion, if I understand him is that we can re-punctuate the Greek of vv. 37-38 (the punctuation is not original) in such a way as to arrive at an English translation like the following: "... If anyone who trusts me just as the Scripture says is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will flow from his belly." Now, the word order is a bit odd, which is why the critical editions don't have this punctuation. This is also probably why whoever put the verse numbers in divided these up the way he did. However, the strange word order may be for emphasis. We can attempt to capture this in English as follows: "If anyone - [that is,] anyone who trusts me just as the Scripture says - is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will flow from his belly."

Now that we're looking at funny word order and emphasis, there is also funny word order in the second sentence. We can further improve our translation to capture that emphasis: "If anyone - [that is,] anyone who trusts me just as the Scripture says - is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Rivers will flow from his belly - [rivers] of living water!"

Now here's a question for you (and one of the likely reasons why no translation has this): if we put this in a Bible translation, where would we put the verse numbers?

Posted by Kenny at September 2, 2008 6:14 PM
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Comments

verse 37: On the last day and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood up. (new century version)

verse 38: He spoke in a loud voice and said "If anyone - [that is,] anyone who trusts me just as the Scripture says - is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Rivers will flow from his belly - [rivers] of living water!"

Just a thought. Chris

Posted by: chris white at September 11, 2008 1:14 PM

I should have added that Jesus possible paused before addressing the crowd. He stood up and waited for the crowd to focus on Him, took a deep breath, (no mikes back then) and spoke in a loud voice. Since it seems natural for there to be a pause, although slight, in the action of Jesus, so too a slight pause in the way we annotate (kind of) the story with verse numbers.

Posted by: chris white at September 11, 2008 1:23 PM

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